Chanakira to sponsor controversial Zanu PF linked Journalists' Union

Addressing a media function in Harare on Wednesday, Kingdom co-founder and non executive director Mr Nigel Chanakira said the award would be part of ZUJ’s annual journalism awards held every year to reward the country’s best writers. Kingdom wanted to make it a "prestigious" award that will recognise the best finance and business writer in the country.

He said the decision to sponsor the award was made in recognition of the important role the media plays in the economic development of Zimbabwe.

He said Kingdom, being a publicly listed company, was keen to see particularly the business and financial media up-skilled so that they can be able to properly report on companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in particular. The group would consider other initiatives to help the business and finance media improve their reporting standards.

Mr Chanakira urged the media to continue to uphold high standards of reporting, focusing more on facts than speculative journalism.

Kingdom was also expecting to make significant announcements in the first quarter of 2010 relating to its expansion programme in Zimbabwe and beyond.

"All I can say is watch this space," Mr Chanakira said.

Already, the group is working on plans to re-list its shares on the ZSE following the successful demerger from Kingdom Meikles Africa.

It is also mulling a listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s Pan Africa Board.

A group of disgruntled journalists met in Harare on Monday night and resolved to challenge in court last week’s election of a new Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) executive.

Guthrie Munyuki, one of the journalists contesting the process, said scribes from the independent and state media who met at the Quill club want the elections annulled, alleging serious flaws.

There are allegations that interference from officials in the Ministry of Information and Publicity contributed to the mayhem that characterized the elections. Questions are still being asked why the venue of the congress was abruptly switched to a remote place, Howe mine, some 30 km outside Bulawayo.

Many bona fide journalists missed the congress because of the last minute switch while others boycotted the event because of suspicions there were a lot of underhand shenanigans taking place.

Observers believe that what lies behind the latest infighting was a clear attempt by the ministry to control the incoming executive, by ensuring that their sponsored candidates were voted into office.

But that common understanding was ‘thrown out the window’ last week when the president and the two vice presidents were chosen from the state media in a specially chereographed event that left many journalists seething with rage. Only foster Dongozi, an independent journalist, retained unopposed the post of secretary-general.

‘We are saying that given previous well documented assaults on journalistic liberties by the state machinery, we cannot have all these guys occupying those positions because they will not be able to withstand pressure from government if it comes to crunch time,’ Munyuki said.

He added; ‘This is a fight that goes beyond journalism in Zimbabwe. We know there are residual elements in ZANU PF who are trying to take control of ZUJ, people they can impose and control.’

Many of the journalists who gathered at the Quill club on Monday believe there is a good chance their case will get a favourable outcome from the High court.

‘Look, the process was deeply flawed, delegates had no idea where the congress was to be held. It was never advertised in the national press as it should happen according to the ZUJ constitution. People were told the congress was to be held in Bulawayo but where in Bulawayo? Was it going to be in a hotel, a sports club, a community hall in Luveve or Magwegwe or a stand at the Trade Fair grounds,’ Munyuki added.

There was also an issue raised about the names contained on the delegates’ list. Reports suggest many of the delegates were ‘shadow figures’ and people not known in the fraternity.

‘That list contained 90% of shadow names, save for a few guys we’ve come to know as real media practitioners in the country. There is a lot happening in ZUJ and the truth will come out one day,’ said Munyuki.